Home Science Harvard “kilobot” robots assemble into shape

Harvard “kilobot” robots assemble into shape

image credit: Harvard

Robotics and robots as assistant technology are on the rise. Harvard’s latest robots show us that even when tiny, programmed creatures gather together, they can accomplish great things.

Harvard scientist Michael Rubenstein, in conjunction with two other Harvard scientists, has created a 1,024-swarm robot army that, with a little human guidance and programming, can assemble into various shapes such as a star or the letter “K.” The tiny robots are called “kilobots” and are no larger than the size of three nickels placed together. The robots only cost $14 to build each one.

While inexpensive and small, the robots are still in the early stages. There are robot errors that occur, and the Harvard team is researching how to help robots “self-reprogram” when errors occur to “jolt” robots back into place. The robots themselves can currently measure their distance from the shape, as well as where to go, and assemble accordingly. This is excellent, but future programs may be able to program the robots to assemble in these shapes automatically – without the robots having to have “marker robots” to assist their activities.

The kilobots have been successful at teaching the Harvard researchers one thing: how simplified computer-simulated creations are. “When you make simulations, you’re always simplifying the world. We realized there are some errors we never even considered putting into simulations,” said Harvard Computer Science and Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering Professor Radhika Nagpal. And it is these errors that researchers will work out over time.


For now, the 1,024-swarm kilobot robot army gives researchers a reason to dream. If robots will prove to be useful in future situations with search and rescue victims, for example, then researchers have a good start in helping robots to transform our world.

Previous articleCoca-Cola buys 16.7% stake in Monster beverage company
Next articleWife of Robin Williams Says the Actor Had Parkinson’s Disease
An entrepreneur by birth, blogger by choice, and geek by heart. He founded Sprouts Media, a blogs/websites network company, currently owns over 10 popular web properties, to cater his passion of journalism and entrepreneurship. He is also known as an avid reader, technology enthusiast, explorer, and a broken lover. His passion for knowledge keeps him running all the time. A pure vegetarian, who believes in reincarnation & law of karma and follows the philosophy of “Live and let others Live” because all living beings have equal right on the resources of this planet. He loves to write about Technology and Social Issues on his blogs. He can be reached at nitin [at] sprouts.media.